Saturday, October 05, 2013

Bonnie - My 2013 Mini Cooper S Coupe and post 4K miles recap

Back in February 2013, I decided to start looking for a new car.  My 2006 Civic Si was fully paid off and still worth nearly $10-13K.  She was a great and fun car but I wanted to up the torque game and was looking to get a car that was heavy in technology and features (auto lights, wipers, adaptive headlights, bt connectivity, usb media player/iphone connectivity).  After looking after some crossover suv type vehicles and some hot hatches/coupes (VW GTI, BRZ, BMW i3), I then saw the Mini Cooper Coupe.  I'm not much of a hatchback design fan but more of a 2door coupe look.  Thus begins my Mini Cooper journey.  Keep reading for the full post and videos.


I'm a single bachelor. I don't plan to get married soon or to worry about having more than one other person in my car. I've gone from a 4dr sedan to a 2 door coupe (room for 4) to my now 2 door coupe / 2 seater. My previous car history is:
age 16 = 1984 Chrysler Lebaron (total crap but man it did well in the winter)
age 17 = 1983 Pontiac Firebird (V8, 5.0 liter, auto tranny; yea a 17 year old's wet dream of a car; was cherry read w/t-tops)
age 20 = 1992 Eagle Talon TSi (turbo, AWD; OMG fun!! but timing belt went out and bent valves, lost about $4k on it)
age 20 = Back to the Firebird
age 22 = 2003 Honda Accord SE (4door, thought i'd be hauling around pals bu then realized.. they now all have real jobs and in turn cars.. doh! but introduced to VTech.. fun!)
age 25 = 2006 Honda Civic Si (first gen of the new redesign coupe; OMG, even more fun!! pocket rocket, redline at 8500RPM, 6speed manual w/LSD.. seriously fun cornering.. but..)
age 33 = 2013 Mini Cooper S Coupe

That leads us up to now...

I ordered my coupe in early Feb 2013 and received it around March 30th 2013. Those few months were the longest and most obsessive months of my life. I followed my build every step of the way and consoled w/fellow owners awaiting their custom mini's too. Finally,I received her just as I had ordered and got to finally stop posting and start driving.

Post 4,000 Mile Thoughts:

After owning a Honda Civic Si, I had VERY high expectations of build quality and performance/reliability. My 2006 Civic Si had a BB value of around $12,000 after 6 years and looked and felt like it had the day i drove off w/ .6 miles on it. I had zero rattles or mechanical issues; the only issue i had was ECU related and was resolved by an ECU update (rev hangs). Total extra maintenance costs after 6 years of spirited (aka fun!) driving = $500 for a new battery and a transmission flush and replacement w/Amsoil (my request, not needed). The bar was set very high for Mini, mainly due to the price of my build after all of the add-ons. let's say around $35000 w/the JCW spoiler.

Build Quality:

So far, pretty solid. I say pretty due to just a slight whistle from the drivers side door/window seal area. Mainly due to the design of the windows and body; doesn't bother me but i could see some people having issues. I haven't had any rattles but also do not have the active spoiler; I had the JCW Fixed Spoiler put on from day one and in turn do not have any of those pieces in the car.

The interior still is a great conversation starting at gas stations or rest stops. most love the middle speedometer and are even more intrigued by the mini connected once i put a movie or music video on it (i also coded my mini w/VIM). The HK sound system is one of the best i've heard in a car in this price range. Solid bass and good mids, highs are not as clear but still good. i'm def no audiophile; i used to be that kid that had subs so... 

Ride Quality/Fun:

HOLY CRAP!! That is all I can say with a big cheesy grin. Fun factor can't be explained but must be experienced. Once you realize this is your daily driver; every drive is fun even the stop and go commute; you put it into Sport mode and just make her pop and burple..  

What is this pop and burple?  Basically it sounds like your car is backfiring on downshifts/engine braking.  It happens in the 2200-2800RPM range when you lift off the gas in that range.

Cornering is unlike any car I've driven; it seriously puts my 06 Civic Si to shame on cloverleaf on-ramps or even 90 degree turns. It just sticks. However if you turn off DSC complete and only have E-LSD enabled; you can nearly feel like your in a RWD car on a turn and kick out the back end. DSC will pull back on the gas when you slip and in turn limits fast acceleration on a bumpy surface. 

Torque in this thing is amazing at pretty much any RPM. There is a bit turbo lag if its not spooled up but still it packs a punch for its size.  I've given a few BMW 3xx and Mustangs a good run for their money.

Ride quality is about the same as my Civic Si was with its sports suspension. Sporty cars = rougher rides; nature of the beast. I did not opt for the sports suspension add-on but instead went w/the JCW Strut brace. I still think it def helps my entries into turns and keeping a straight line while braking. 

The runflats do make for a rougher ride and man, avoid those nasty potholes! However they do give you better cornering in by nature of their design (steel inside to allow to run on a flat, etc). I prob will swap out once i need new tires but for now i'm happy w/the stock runflats.  One bad thing about run-flats is that if you do get a flat, you may need to get a new tire vs having it fixed. I have the Continental run-flats and got a flat and had to have the tire replaced.  They apparently don't allow tire shops to fix them, they do give you a decent credit on the new tire.

I also opted for the 6speed automatic transmission vs the manual. I know, most of the hardcore are just shaking their heads in disapproval. . however.. this auto feels just as good as my manual 6speed. plus i can do semi manual w/the paddles and bring it to the red but traffic sucks and i got sick of shifting. so far, no regrets.

Other Notes:

-the armrest DOES NOT come w/the iPhone charging dock. it costs about $250 from Mini/BMW. BOOO!! yea, you get nickeled and dimed on accessories is my only complaint..

-the new Mini's have the WORST oil dipstick. It nearly takes a rocket science degree to understand. Seriously, messed up! my 1983 Chrysler Lebaron had a basic metal dipstick that i could see how much oil i had w/o reading a manual and then just hoping i'm getting an accurate reading.. wtf????

-get your mini coded! its worth imo, i have VIM (video in motion) so i can put on movies while driving for the passenger, close windows w/fob, etc.

-the Mini Cooper community is pretty cool and fun. there are tons of events and mini clubs all over the place. 

Finally.. the first 1200 miles are the hardest miles ever.. break-in.. I went w/the variable RPM and lots of engine braking break-in (take it to 5,000k and back down and up a again a few times in the beginning). It seems to have worked just as good as it did on my Si.  I have not noticed any oil leaking or using of oil post 1200 miles.  

Enjoy the videos below, some stock exhaust and a few of my upgraded ALTA JCW 3" Exhaust.

  • Stock Exhaust - Bumpercam

  • ALTA JCW Exhaust - Bumpercam

  • Drive By Video of Exhaust